Self-Harm and Dry Skin: You Cannot Pick Away the Cold

November 20, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

Cold weather brings dry skin, and dry skin can bring self-harm urges. Prepare yourself to deal with self-harm triggers this season. Consider these ideas.

When seasons change, so do our bodies. Our bodies become shocked when temperatures go from sunny and warm to windy and cool and it often takes a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. Sometimes allergies tend to act up and skin goes from being soft and tan to blotchy and dry, and the flu begins it's season. Along with physical health issues, our mental health takes a toll as well when seasons change.

This isn’t just about seasonal depression or the “winter blues.” This is about how your body physically changes and how those changes can sometimes be unsafe to those who self-harm. Many of those who self-harm feel tempted when they see scabs, hangnails or acne. Some people, even those who do not self-injure, feel tempted to pick at these and once you start, it is very difficult to stop this habit.

Self-Harm Triggered by Dry Winter Skin

With cold weather comes body changes and some of the skin changes can bring forward urges to skin pick and self-harm. Colder weather brings on skin changes and for those who constantly feel the need to pick and scratch and peel, the winter can be seen as a danger zone. We all struggle with body-focused repetitive behaviors such as biting our nails, picking scabs and popping acne. However, self-harmers may become more prone to these behaviors when under stress or in a trigger-filled environment. Sometimes, just seeing these skin changes can tempt someone to pick or peel without any thought involved.

Pain from My Dry Skin Doesn't Stop Self-Harm

As unattractive as it sounds, most of us tend to get dry skin and break out during the colder seasons. Even people who have the smoothest skin find the occasional blemish from time to time when the weather cools down. With the seasons transitioning, my skin has become moody – breaking out in very odd ways. The skin on my hands has become so dry it has started peeling and the skin under the rings on my fingers is constantly swollen and painful.

This all may sound a little gross, but what makes this entire situation worse is that no matter how painful it all is – I still pick it. Being I struggle with excoriation disorder, or “skin picking”, it is very difficult to hold back the temptation to pick when the triggers are directly in front of me at all time. I will put Band-Aids over some of the rough and painful skin to stop self-harm urges, but who really wants to have their hands covered in bandages?

Prepare for Self-Harm Urges If You Get Dry Skin this Winter

When we know that we are going to be faced with urges to self-harm or be involved with body-focused repetitive behaviors such as nail-biting or hangnail pulling, there needs to be some sort of preparation plan created. This plan needs to occur whenever you expect yourself to fall into the temptation to self-harm or pick.

This plan may be more easily seen as a mindset switch. When you know your skin is going to act in odd ways due to weather changes, become proactive. Find allergy medicine or creams that best work for you so that you don’t break-out in ways that can trigger you to pick or harm your body. Most of the time, it takes serious self-talk to stop yourself from biting a hangnail or popping acne. However, with the use of positive self-talk and planning, the colder seasons can be faced with more force and less pain.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, November 20). Self-Harm and Dry Skin: You Cannot Pick Away the Cold, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 18 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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